Lehigh off to best start since 1980 following win
Posted: December 21, 2008
WEST LONG BRANCH, N.J. – Lehigh led from the opening tap to the final buzzer on Sunday afternoon and left New Jersey with an 80-71 victory over Monmouth at Boylan Gymnasium as the Mountain Hawks improved to 7-3 for the first time since 1980. Lehigh held a 30-point lead in the first half, but had it cut to single digits in the second half before holding on for its second straight victory. Junior Marquis Hall scored a team-high 23 points, while senior Phil Anderson hit for a career-best 16 and sophomore Rob Keefer added 15. Yaniv Simpson scored a game-high 25 points for the Hawks, who fall to 2-12 following the loss.
Watch Mountain Hawks Basketball Post-Game Extra with Matt Kerr and Marty Horn
Lehigh pulled down 43 rebounds for the game, led by Dave Buchberger’s eight, while Anderson and Hall both totaled seven caroms. Prentice Small led the Brown and White with three assists, while as a team, Lehigh turned the ball over just six times. Lehigh marched to the free throw line 37 times, and connected on 28 of its attempts, good for a 75-percent showing.
“It was a good win for us,” Anderson explained afterwards. “We came out hard; the second half was a little different than the first, but we were able to build a nice lead in the first half and hang on and we came away with the victory.” He continued, “It got a little scary towards the end of the game there, but I had confidence that we would hang on and we were able to.”
Head coach Brett Reed gave his thoughts afterward. “It got a little tight there, but I’ve been watching basketball since I was a little kid and I’ve found that the most difficult thing for a team to do is to have a cushion like we did and not be able to relinquish it. My internal thought was if we could keep it from getting to single digits that would be a significant feat for us.” He continued, “They are a talented team from what I saw from the game before and they were able to get back into the game with that reckless, helter-skelter type of play. It’s difficult to hold a lead, but down the stretch, we made our free throws and ultimately got the win.”
Monmouth wound up shooting 42-percent from the floor following a slow start. George Barbour joined Simpson in double figures with 13 points, while Mike Myers Keitt added 12. The Hawks turned the ball over 14 times, but did have 15 assists on their 22 field goals.
A jumper by Hall right out of the halftime break gave Lehigh a 50-23 lead, and a jumper by Keefer three minutes later upped the Mountain Hawks advantage to 29. From there Monmouth began to chip away however, as a Simpson lay up with 14:04 on the clock made it a 21-point game. Two straight free throws by Kiett and a three-pointer by Simpson cut it to a 13-point game at the 11:18 mark, while another three by the game’s leading scorer made the score 67-57 in favor of the Brown and White. Monmouth got to within seven with 2:18 to go, but that was as close as the Hawks would get, as Lehigh did a great job at the free throw line and on the glass down the stretch to preserve its fourth road win of the season.
Behind a staggering first half performance, Lehigh jumped out a 48-23 lead at halftime. The 48 points were the most scored in a half by the Mountain Hawks since scoring 59 in last year’s season opener at Cornell. Hall led the Brown and White with 13 points, while Anderson sank three-of-six field goals en route to 12 tallies. Anderson also pulled down a team-high six rebounds, while Small handed out three assists. Lehigh connected on 40-percent of its field goal attempts in the opening 20 minutes and out rebounded the Hawks 23 to 16. The Mountain Hawks turned the ball over just once and hit 14 of their 17 free throw attempts.
Monmouth began the game ice cold from the floor, but warmed up towards the end of the half to finish at 32-percent. Simpson netted ten first half tallies on three-of-five shooting and he also ripped down a team-best three rebounds. Monmouth committed ten turnovers and hit on only 2-of-12 three-point attempts.
Lehigh is back in action on Tuesday evening when the Mountain Hawks travel to Seattle, Washington to take on the Washington Huskies at Bank of America Arena. Tip-off is set for 6:00 PM Eastern time and the game will be televised live on Fox Sports Net Northwest as well as Fox College Sports Pacific (Service Electric Cable dial position 167). The game will also be broadcast live in the Lehigh Valley on ESPN Radio 1230 and 1320 as well as around the world on Lehighsports.com with Jeff Tourial providing the commentary. Pre-game coverage gets underway at 5:30 Eastern time.